Questions for the Candidates

7:44 am

I am planning to submit questionnaires to mayoral and city council candidates to see where they stand on the issues we all care about. I would love some input from the community on these. Here are a couple sample questions I came up with.

  • City Auditor Gary Blackmer and Multnomah County Auditor Suzanne Flynn released a joint audit report in June of 2006 which found that Portland Public Schools’ transfer policy contributes to racial and socio-economic segregation and conflicts with other district goals such as strong neighborhood schools and investing in poorly performing schools. The report requested that the school board clarify the of the purpose of the transfer policy, but nearly two years later, they have not. As mayor or commissioner, will you do anything to hold the school district accountable to this audit?
  • Portland Public Schools’ student transfer policy divests over $40 million annually from our poorest neighborhoods, leaving our most economically vulnerable citizens with gutted educational programs and a disproportionate number of school closures. This puts PPS policy at odds with city policy of strong, livable neighborhoods, with affordable housing near strong schools. As mayor or commissioner, how will you work with the PPS Board of Education to ensure their policies do not work at cross purposes with city policies?

And here’s one just for Sho Dozono:

  • You started the Portland Schools Foundation to support schools, particularly those in lower-income areas, in the wake of Measure 5. Now, more than ten years later, the foundation is frequently criticized as part of the problem, not part of the solution. Is the foundation still relevant today, or should the district administer the equity fund in-house?

What else?

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Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.

filed under: Elections, Equity, Transfer Policy

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7 Responses

  1. Comment from Steve Buel:

    1) What is the specific role of the city council in helping children in the lower economic neighborhoods of Portland?

    2) School closures and school facility decisions heavily affect the livability of the city. What is the role of the city council in influencing these decisions?

    3) A couple of organizations control who gets elected to the Portland School Board. Would you support public funding for elections to the school board.

    4) If PPS should put forth a maintainance and facilities bond of a billion dolllars, what will be your position on this election?

  2. Comment from Nancy:

    Would you support changing the school board election laws so that each director is elected only by the citizens of their zone (rather than a city-wide election for every school board position) so that families in poorer neighborhoods have genuine representation?

    Under the current system, two powerful organizations, with policies favoring middle- and upper-income families, dominate all the candidates, and the inequities are becoming more blatant every year.

  3. Comment from Terry:

    Good questions all.

    With regard to Nancy’s proposal, single district (or zone) elections wouldn’t necessarily diminish the influence of Stand for Children or the Portland Schools Foundation in the election of board members.

    On the plus side, specific zone elections might force candidates to focus on the issues of most concern their neighborhoods.

  4. Comment from Steve Buel:

    Geez, Terry, I am maybe opposite on your analysis of single district elections. It would be easier to campaign and offset the money and I think it is better if board members stay focussed district wide. What about the old way, where people could decide which seat they would run for and didn’t have to run in their district? An outsider could go after the weakest opponent. Right now Stand for Children just decides anyway. Dan Ryan’s $70,000 would do pretty darn good in one district only. Heck, instead of 3 pieces of literature in every house it would be 21.

  5. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    I assume the issue of zone elections is a matter of state law, so there probably isn’t much use asking mayoral or city council candidates about that.

    Public financing may be a matter for the state, too, or could the district do this on their own?

    I like the idea of public financing across the board. But how would we all feel about giving part of our education budget to candidates to send out glossy election mail?

  6. Comment from Zarwen:

    Then maybe the answer is to cap contributions. There has to be some kind of way to stop national organizations with big bucks from choosing our school board.

  7. Comment from Terry:

    Dan Ryan’s $70,000 would do pretty darn good in one district only.”

    Doesn’t that support my contention that single district candidacies wouldn’t necessarily diminish the influence of the big money movers and shakers?

    I agree, Steve B., that candidates should have to consider policies for the entire district. On the other hand, it would be nice to know somebody on the board was concerned with the poorer areas of the city.